Panasonic Board Said to Vote on Cutting the Number of Executives

Panasonic Corp.’s board will meet tomorrow to consider cutting its number of top executives by almost half as part of President Kazuhiro Tsuga’s efforts to rebound from a record annual loss, two people familiar with the plan said.

The board probably will approve a proposal that would reduce the number of executive officers from 30 in order to lower costs and speed up management decisions, a person familiar with the plan said, declining to be named because the proposal hasn’t been made public. The Osaka, Japan-based company will probably announce the changes tomorrow after the meeting, said another person, who also declined to be identified.

Tsuga, 56, who took the top job in June, is cutting jobs and reducing the number of business units after Panasonic posted a 772 billion-yen ($8.4 billion) net loss in the year ended March 2012. Japan’s second-largest TV maker booked a profit last quarter after eliminating 13,000 jobs, while closest domestic peer Sony Corp. reported a net loss.

James Bell, a spokesman for Panasonic, declined to comment. Panasonic’s executive officers have responsibilities ranging from corporate environmental affairs to cost-cutting projects, according to a company statement.

Panasonic fell 1.8 percent to 671 yen in Tokyo trading, trimming its gain this year to 29 percent. Sony dropped 3.7 percent as Japanese exporters fell.

The maker of Viera TVs is reducing the number of basic business divisions to four from nine and the number of business units to no more than 56 from 88, starting April 1.

In October, Panasonic cut staffing at its headquarters to about 150 from about 7,000 by reassigning most workers.

Tsuga is set to announce a new medium-term plan next month that may include realigning businesses. He plans to focus on units offering the highest profit margins, including beauty products, and decrease reliance on lower-margin products including TVs and mobile phones.

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